Can a Relative Gain Custody of a Child?
Parents have a constitutional right to the legal and physical custody of their children. However, there are situations when custody of child should not be with their parents, but rather with a third party that has a substantial relationship with that child.
Those situations occur when a parent is unfit, has neglected the welfare of the child, or has otherwise acted in a manner inconsistent with his or her protected status as parent.
For example, a court would have to find that the child is in danger of being harmed, or is being physically abused. Once such allegation is proven, the trial court may proceed to determine custody or visitation by application of the best interest of the child standard.
This third party could be family member or friend but the person must have a substantial relationship with the child that resembles one a parent would have.
In addition, a petitioner may have the permission of one or both parents before obtaining custody, and the parent may still be entitled to see or otherwise communicate with a son or daughter. In such a scenario, a third-party may be granted temporary custody with the legal parents losing some of their parental rights until any and all issues are taken care of. A child custody lawyer may be able to help establish that a child would be better off in the custody of someone who is better able to care for the child.